One month ago, on the December 28th Full Moon, I started a 30-day practice.
Daily, I lit a stick of Maroma’s “New Energy” incense; asked myself, “How will I sustain my total well-being in order to serve others and live on purpose;” sat to chant 108 repetitions of the “Asato Ma” prayer (Lead me from unreal to real; from darkness to light; from that which dies off to that which is everlasting.); then posted the day’s thoughts on Facebook.
Each week, I compiled the Facebook posts with additional reflections here, on this Urban Yoga Den blog. This is the Week-Four compilation. Today is day 30. I am done. So to speak.
This week’s Facebook posts, below. Tomorrow, a more thorough wrap-up of the outcomes of this month-long effort. Thanks for reading. OM Shanti.
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Mon, 01/21/13. Day 25.
Five days left in this exploration. Already I’ve received so many answers to my inquiry, “How will I sustain my total well-being in order to serve others and live on purpose?”
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Tue, 01/22/13. Day 26.
Reflecting on what’s come to my attention over recent weeks.
Cultivating gentleness and nurturing toward others is an obvious calling. During our Prison Yoga Project teaching training last December, founder James Fox modeled the nurturing teaching style that works with incarcerated people. I agreed immediately with its appropriateness.
Now, fears are arising. I wonder…
Who will I be if not my trauma-surviving, tough, tell-it-like-it-is, scrappy little punk? Will at-risk communities be able to relate to the gentle yoga lady? Will I lose my ‘street cred’ if I get too soft? Will I lose my street sense, my security in my ‘hood?
Do I have to give up my edge? My tattoos, jeans and boots, my rock-n-roll and my urban excitements for a life of quiet New Age music and loose, flowing clothes?
I do have a soft, gentle nurturing side. I do value vulnerability. Still, for the sake of relationship health and serving others effectively, how will I reconcile my two sides? More will be revealed…
(Pictured – Me with Mucha Lucha cartoon character, “Buena Girl.” She’s tough and she’s girly and…she stands for all things buena!)
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Wed, 01/23/13. Day 27.
Continuing to reflect on what’s come to my attention over recent weeks.
At times I feel immense self-doubt after I make a harmful mistake – particularly if I feel unforgiven by others. This comes from a core wound I have from childhood (put briefly) of feeling like a big fat problem and therefore unwanted.
So my internal work when such self-doubt arises is to direct the essence of Yoga Sutra 1.33 toward myself, the same way I would direct it toward others who commit harm: I aim to cultivate compassion and detach from the harmful action. Add to this – I aim to forgive. (After or along with processing my emotions, so as not to “Spiritually Bypass” that essential step in healing.)
Forgiveness does not mean I condone harmfulness. Therefore, when I make a mistake, I must simultaneously reflect and take action on how I can avoid making the same mistake again. How I can observe and exemplify Ahimsa – the avoidance of violence.
This is why I am able to do the work that I aim to do – sharing yoga with people who make mistakes and who commit harm. With people who others might deem unforgivable. I believe in every person’s ability to recover, rehabilitate, grow and serve. I believe in forgiveness of all. Ohhhh, it can be hard at times – I have been seriously harmed! But if I yearn to live a yogic life, to sustain inner peace, and therefore to be able to show up for others in service…processing my emotions AND using Sutra 1.33 as an avenue to forgiveness and moving on is essential.
So…what do I do if mindful reflection on the Sutras does not erase my self doubt? I take Swami Satchidananda’s suggestion to throw myself into loving devotion of a higher power – a devotion, he says, that will remove all doubts. For me, this power is nature. Nature, with all of its organically forgivable, chaotically beautiful messiness of process. Nature affirms that I will continue to drop leaves, tangle branches, flood, blow things down, burn…and…that I will recover with new blooms, deeper roots, a more gentle flow, a softer breeze, a guiding light.
When I plunge into nature, my process, my intentions, my growth and my usefulness are validated. Devotion erases doubt; inner peace returns; and I can serve effectively. And especially when others lack forgiveness and compassion – mine must be doubtless, faithful, sustaining.
So. Into nature I go…
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Thu, 01/24/13. Day 28.
The Full Moon in Leo approaches this Saturday – the final day of “Full of Shift.” Continued reflections on what’s come to my attention over recent weeks. On boundaries and integrity:
I’ve been writing and sharing about mistakes. There are some mistakes that I NEVER want to make again – the mistakes that lead to me being harmed, due to my own poor choices, faulty judgment and lack of discernment.
May I always make healthy decisions for myself.
May I enjoy situations, circles and relationships of shared honesty, transparency, truth, trust, reciprocity, accountability, responsibility, respect, loyalty, commitment and anything else that yields non-harming conditions.
May my relationships brew faith, love, devotion, passion, compassion, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, tolerance, health, change and growth.
May I continue to work toward embodying, vibrating and sharing all of these values within my own mind, heart, soul and life.
And may I not settle for less.
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Fri, 01/25/13. Day 29.
Leo Full Moon tomorrow – the final day of “Full of Shift.” Continued reflections on “How will I sustain my total well-being in order to serve others and live on purpose?”
On work ethic, discernment and freeing my heart of unresolved pain:
– “Those who want to be prosperous must first make others prosperous.” (Yoga Bhajan) This I believe. I approach “jobs” – whether corporate, nonprofit or yoga work – with the intention to support my employer’s success. I aim to contribute to a strong, healthy business by doing my assigned job well, by making effort beyond expectation, by being dependable/reliable, and by being a cheerleader for the organization/owner. I don’t know any other way to serve at work.
– “When anything comes to you, first ask yourself, ‘Will I be maintaining my peace by getting this, or will my peace be disturbed?’ Ask that for everything.” (Sri Swami Satchidananda) When I first read this quote years ago, I was reminded of the addiction recovery program inquiry, “Are you going toward or away from a drink?” In early sobriety, I became very accustomed to making decisions by asking myself whether a choice would make me feel serene or not. If a choice made me feel ill at ease, I was at risk of “going toward a drink,” and losing my emotional, or, lord-forbid, my physical sobriety. This style of discernment is still a great gauge for me today.
– I need to address unresolved anger and therefore liberate my heart from pain that makes me overreact to perceived threats of harm from well-intentioned people. With a 47-year history of trauma, violations and abuses…how? Lobotomy? “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?” More denial? Hee hee. Seriously, I have spent ample time and energy “doing the work” – looking squarely at, understanding and analyzing my past. I know everything about my pain. I write about it. I teach about it. I can run circles around it. Most of this “work” has been in my brain. Still, there seems to be something very un-brain-related about the residual emotion that gets twisted into misguided emotion today. I know I’ll never be trigger-free – this is the reality of having my past. Still, I (and my friends) would like some solutions. So I’ve been asking, “What can I do to address/process unresolved anger?” Suggestions/reflections thus far: SPEND REGULAR TIME IN NATURE; PRACTICE THE BUDDHIST TONGLEN MEDITATION; WRITING/BURNING RITUALS; RESTORATIVE YOGA & YOGA NIDRA; CHAKRA DANCE PROGRAMS; TAKE A GUIDED YOGA RETREAT; CULTIVATE JOY THROUGH A REJUVENATING VACATION. Anything else you’d like to share?
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Sat, 01/26/13. Day 30.
Wrapping up the ritual today, day 30. Under a Leo Full Moon, teaching, practicing, relating, connecting. Kirtan later tonight. Moon peaks after 11:30pm EST. All is good.